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Jarlshof Shetland


It was my friend who said we have to go and see Jarlshof, I said it was just a pile of old stone, but she protested and I relented. A history of Bronze Age and Viking peoples emerged in front of our eyes. Sir Walter Scott wrote about Jarlshof in one of his novels. Talking to a local man passionate about the past, he said, "This is how we might have to live in a post industrial era". All that fresh air and working with the elements of nature might not be a bad thing I thought as we drove away in the new Renault.

Jarlshof - One

Occupation covering some 4,200 years

Jarlshof - Two

A life based on farming and fishing

Jarlshof - Three

There is evidence of a bronze smithy around 800 BC

Shetland: Island Guide By Jill Slee Blackadder available from

This guide aims to trace the history, landscape and nature of Shetland. It presents maps, colour photographs and drawings and text to describe this dynamic mix of land, sea, life and legend.

Jarlshof  - Four

Earlier settlers to the site came from the southern part of Norway

Jarlshof - Five

Norse settlement at Jarlshof spanned over 400 years

Jarlshof - Six

The name Jarlshof comes from Sir Walter Scott, who visited the site and later used it in the opening scene of his novel, The Pirate.

Jarlshof - Seven

The archaeological remains at Jarlshof were first discovered in the late 19th century after storm damage to the shore revealed a number of massive stone walls

Jarlshof - Eight

There was a large defended broch and courtyard, which doubtless survived into the Viking age.

Jarlshof - Broch


A Broch is a tall wide tower used as a store, a home, a refuge from marauding raiders

Jarlshof - Nine

The first traditional type farming is seems to have started in the 9th century,

Jarlshof - Ten


Jarlshof is situated at Sumburgh on the very southern tip of the Shetland Islands

Jarlshof  - Eleven

Bone and antler were used to make the tools and decorations of everyday life. Dress-pins, hair combs, toggles, needle-cases, handles for iron knives

Jarlshof - Twelve

Jarlshof has shown that the Vikings not just as raiders and pillagers, but also as settlers, farmers and fishermen.


Would love to get there one day. Katy
Most interesting - would love to visit one day - John New Zealand

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